A Note from Pastor Rick: Keep the Fire on the Altar Burning!
Leviticus 6:9 instructs the people of Israel to keep the fire on the altar burning. That word was both practical and, more importantly, symbolic of a spiritual imperative. Practically, the fire on the altar was to be tended in order to be able to offer the morning and evening sacrifices and the other offerings that God’s people brought to the altar. Symbolically, the fire speaks of keeping the passion of our devotion for the Lord stoked and tended.
During our recent 10 Days of Prayer gathering, the presence of the Lord in the tent was so sweet and so strong that one morning I was gripped with a sense that we needed to take a remembrance of the experience into the sanctuary when the 10 Days was over. I did not know what would be a good visual symbol for such a remembrance, but I felt the need to do so very strongly. Later that day, Steve Briggs approached me and showed me a picture. The picture was of a simple stone altar that he had been prompted by the Lord to erect from stones on his property. He had received a strong impression from the Lord to build that altar while he had been praying and worshiping during one of the late night watches during the 10 Days. When Steve showed me the picture of that stone altar, I felt a connection with the impression I had received from the Lord earlier that day. So I asked Steve if he would bring the altar to the tent that evening. He did and he set it up near the front of the tent, just in front of the platform. That stone altar then became a focal point, a place to gather around, for those praying during the late night watches of the 10 Days. I felt strongly that this altar would be the symbol of remembrance to carry into the sanctuary; honoring the Lord’s presence poured out upon us during the 10 Days.
Then this past Sunday October 11th, Jeff Collins came to Wellspring to minister. Because of Covid and the shutdown, we were not able to schedule a three day camp meeting/conference with Jeff, as we have done in the past. But Jeff ministered at both services in the morning and one special meeting on Sunday evening. He came carrying a word of exhortation and encouragement from the Lord—Keep the fire on the altar burning!
When Jeff repeated the word this past Sunday evening, I conferred with Pastor Wes. Since the 10 Days gathering had been cut short after 7 days, and we had closed down the in-person Sunday services for two weeks due to a possible Covid risk (thankfully a false positive!); we had not yet transferred the altar to the sanctuary. “Now is the time!” was the sense I was feeling. Wes concurred. So, we quickly organized an informal procession and brought the stones of witness into the sanctuary and Steve Briggs arranged them again on the platform as an altar of witness to the Lord’s graciousness and presence.
Keep the fire on the altar burning! This is the word of encouragement and exhortation from the Lord to Wellspring as we draw near to the close of this tumultuous year of 2020. In the midst of the uncertainties of a pandemic, societal shutdown, racial strife, civil unrest and a divisive election season, our number one priority remains our number one priority: Keep the fire on the altar burning!
What does this mean? It means keeping our focus on the Lord and his Kingdom and not on the swirl going on all around us. It means maintaining our heart’s devotion to the Lord as the anchor for our hope. It means yielding to him and his purposes even in the midst of all these crises. And it means that God has a specific calling for Wellspring as an instrument of his purpose in these turbulent days. That calling will only be fulfilled if we keep our hearts fixed upon the Lord and his Kingdom and burning with devotion for him.
Pastor Wes has been reminding us through these past months that we do not retreat to the sanctuary of the Lord in order to escape the world and its problems. Rather we come to the sanctuary to be renewed in hope; to be re-centered in God’s purposes; and to be re-fired with zeal to serve him. We come to the sanctuary so that we might live from the sanctuary into the needs of the world. Keep the fire on the altar burning! That is the starting point for living into our purpose and calling.